The woman is racked by grief, and the man, who is a therapist, decides he will guide her through the process and help her recover, leading to a retreat in a secluded cabin in the woods (called Eden, in a bit of perhaps too on-the-nose symbolism). Earlier, the woman had gone there with their son to work on her thesis on gynocide (the torture and killing of women simply because they are women, and believed to be inherently evil).
Initially, the man appears to be making progress, but the end result will be a horrific one, with the woman somehow beginning to believe that woman is evil and nature itself rising up in a kind of demonic fury that also seems like the product of an ancient age. Sexual violence, inexplicable rage and genital mutilation ensue in scenes that will test the mettle of most viewers.
So why would anyone want to watch this stuff? And perhaps more importantly, what kind of mind thinks to put it on screen?
There’s no question that von Trier is a provocateur, but Antichrist doesn’t simply succeed in eliciting a visceral reaction, even if that’s the one that’s most readily apparent. It also engages the mind and the senses with an expertly crafted tale of grief, anxiety, dreams and gender roles in a world that’s neither modern nor ancient.
The Blu-ray Disc
Antichrist is presented in 1080p high definition with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The film was shot digitally on the RED One and the Phantom HD cameras, which ensures that the film has remained pristine within the digital workflow. The film and this high def presentation of it are stunning throughout, beginning with the black-and-white prologue that looks fantastic, with high-contrast, slow-motion images that show remarkable detail and clarity. The rest of the film exists in a somewhat drab, earthy color palette, but never dips in quality, even when the image is hazy or very dark, both of which are frequent occurrences. The visual presentation consistently wowed me, and I can’t imagine the film looking any better on home video.